24 November 2023


Seventy years of creativity and innovation in South Australian wine label design will be showcased at The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre from next month.

Message on a Bottle, presented by the University of South Australia’s Creative Unit and City of Mount Gambier, is a rich exposé of the integral relationships between label designers, grape growers, wine producers and sales marketers – weaving the threads of education, commerce and research.

Showcased at The Riddoch in Mount Gambier from 2 December to 29 January 2024, Message on a Bottle celebrates the important roles and contributions of wine label design in the establishment and growth of the wine industry and its brands, which have become synonymous with the global perception of South Australia.

The exhibition which is touring regionally for the first time features 70 wine labels by 10 leading wine label design studios and some of SA’s most prolific wine brands including Gemtree Wines, S.C Pannell, Hugh Hamilton, Sevenhill Cellars, The Other Wine Co, d’Arenberg, Tapanappa and Samuel’s Gorge.

David Blaiklock, exhibition team member and Program Director of the Bachelor of Design (Illustration and Animation) at UniSA, says the design of memorable and successful wine labels has seen SA designers and studios gain international prominence and recognition over the last 70 years.

“Prior to the 1960s wine labels were just pieces of paper with handwritten titles stuck to the bottle. Prolific designers such as Wyatt Moro, Barrie Tucker, Ian Kidd and John Newland have gone on to reimagine wine labels and bring them to life,” he says.

“Wine label design now has a significant influence on purchasing decisions of buyers as well as on the economic, social, and cultural capital of SA.”

The exhibition concept was conceived by the late Rita Siow, who was General Manager of the Australian Graphic Design Association (AGDA) for 14 years and an outspoken design advocate and educator. Rita credited the growth in wine label innovation to producers, designers, printers, and marketers working together, including the influence of rising international exports.  

“Rita believed the remarkable changes in the way wine labels have been designed and produced and the significant shift in the interest in SA wine from around the world is worth reflection and celebration,” Blaiklock says.

An official opening will take place on Friday 8 December at 6pm and newly appointed Director of The Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre Ashleigh Whatling says the exhibition will appeal to a different creative audience hopefully attracting the likes of both graphic designers and wine enthusiasts.

“The artistry and innovation of the wine label has come a long way in recent years – once upon a time we might sheepishly admit to picking a bottle based on the label, but this exhibition celebrates the way an artist can convert a label into an opportunity to tell a story about people, place and most importantly, ignite our imagination and sense by visually conveying the flavour and experience contained within a bottle,” Whatling says.

The Riddoch is open from 10am to 5pm weekdays and 10am to 2pm weekends and most public holidays. Entry is free. For more information visit the Riddoch Arts and Cultural Centre website.



Media contacts:

Melissa Keogh, Communications Officer, UniSA M: +61 403 659 154 E: melissa.keogh@unisa.edu.au

David Blaiklock, Program Director: Bachelor of Design (Illustration and Animation), UniSA M: + 61 400 711 467
E: David.blaiklock@unisa.edu.au

Ashlea Watson, Communications Officer, City of Mount Gambier P: 08 8721 2578 E: awatson@mountgambier.sa.gov.au

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